By: Malaika Bobino
Sacramento, CA – The performance behind two players changed the outcome of the game. Kings head coach Keith Smart took a chance on something called “small ball” that brought magic to a team that needed it desperately.
Sacramento earned their second win by defeating the Orlando Magic 91-82 before embarking on a six week road trip. Both reserve guards Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas rarely share time on the floor together but tonight things were different.
“We played small ball and came to life,” said Smart.
After losing an 11-point lead in the third quarter the Kings bounced back behind their backups. Both Fredette and Thomas finished with 17 and 15 points each to prompt a 15-2 run that secured their second consecutive victory. And this time they did without their star player, Tyreke Evans.
“It’s a great dynamic [playing with Thomas],” Jimmer said. “I think two guys that can shoot the ball, make plays for other people and can get into the lane and penetrate is good. I was happy to go in there with him and pull out a win.”
Evans was a late scratch due to swelling in his knee, he had an MRI earlier in the day that came back negative. Francisco Garcia started in Tyreke’s place for the first time this season. Sacramento got help from their bigs early to dominate the boards and take a 46-34 lead by halftime.
“We were smart out there tonight,” said Thomas Robinson. “We made big plays and we finished plays.”
DeMarcus Cousins recorded another double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Jason Thompson added 12 points and managed to stay out of foul trouble long enough to provided some dominance in the paint. The early lead was the start this team had been looking for all season.
Magic’s Glen Davis had 20 points and 11 rebounds but fouled out in the final 36 seconds. Despite another stellar performance from Aaron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson, Orlando lost their second straight game as they come to the end of their West Coast road trip.
“They made some plays in the fourth quarter,” Davis said. “Fredette made some good moves and Isaiah was tough. He really sealed the game the way he played. Those are two tough guards.”
With 5:05 left in the third quarter, the Magic tied the game and took the lead for the first time. The Kings starters rallied back in the final minutes to get back on top but it was Smart’s decision to go small in the fourth that changed the game completely for Sacramento.
“Every game has a different personality,” Keith said. “The lineup that Orlando used allowed me to do that rotation tonight. They didn’t look to post up their guards. In tomorrow’s game, Portland will post up their twos and threes, so there may not be a situation like that moving forward.”